Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fashion Inspiration: "Donna" on AMC's Halt and Catch Fire

Wow, long time no blog post! I promise you I have been sewing. I haven't had the opportunity to photograph my projects in a while, nor the time to write anything interesting about them.

Most devastating of all was my inability to make the dress I wanted for the MadMen III Challenge. Those turned out amazing! But recently I have been really inspired by another new AMC show Halt and Catch Fire. I have yet to find anyone on the internet discussing the fashion in depth as they do for every episode of MadMen. Some investigation into that will have to happen soon on my part, because two of the four lead characters are female and they have really great (though totally opposite) 80's styles. I relate to both aesthetics but in terms of sewing projects I would gravitate to, it is definitely all about Donna.

This is exactly how my mom dressed as a young mother and wife. I have a tea length, high-waisted, dusty rose skirt she made. I wear that thing all the time and Donna's character makes me itch to make some 80's inspired pieces of my own!

My original instinct with sewing projects was to go really conservative and vintage. As I have done more production sewing for designers in Portland, I have started gravitating toward more easy-to-wear modern sewing projects. Mostly crop tops. Lots and lots of crop tops. But I still really love how much care and effort went into vintage clothes like what I have seen Donna wear. And the fact that, though retail chains were certainly popular by this point in time, all of her clothing looks like it definitely could have been handmade. I feel like it wasn't until the mid-eighties that the trend of sewing your own clothes really fell off. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

The thing that is really striking to me as millennial who didn't truly live though the 80's is how freaking classy Donna's style is. It actually feels really 70's, like she is the conservative mother whose style isn't as cutting edge as the other spunky young female lead, Cameron.

Anyway, here are some shots of Donna that I pulled from the internetz. I'll remember to screenshot her the next time I watch an episode.

Clearly a lot of frilly white blouses and high-waisted pencil skirts. Her style shows her maturity, her poise, her elegance, her femininity, her power, her purity of heart, her experience... I don't know, there is just something that I really relate to in it all.

It is frustrating to me that her character is underrated not only in the narrative of the show, but in the articles I have read that are supposed to be analyzing the show. At this exact point in time I can also really relate to a woman who works her ass off, is fucking amazing, and is totally undervalued by everyone around her. I hope she gets some attention soon, and more than just on my silly little blog.

Would you feel inclined to make any of these pieces and style them in a more modern way?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Planning: MadMen Challenge III

Oh boy, here I go again, picking a Peggy dress with a complicated neckline! I think I did ok with last year's dress. This new dress I am planning looks like it has a silk scarf for a collar. Or, as my bf deemed it, a "scollar." Get it? Like scholar? So, I am definitely going to have to name this The Scollar Dress. Hahaha...

I am probably going to do a really simple shift dress in black and then look for some black and white striped polyester for the scarf collar detail. There is a slit in the front of the dress that the scarf weaves through. I am not exactly sure how to create that yet... How does Peggy get her head through any of her dresses?? Anyway, lots of planning to do I guess!

Are you participating in Julia Bobbin's MadMen challenge this year? If so, what are you thinking of making?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Now Testing: Fabric Bleaching

OMG this is so much fun! I used two knit dress pieces to experiment with fabric bleaching today. 

Step 1: Dip a medium sized paint brush into a cup of bleach. 
Step 2: Let the bulk of the bleach drain off and then drizzle and flicked it onto the fabric. 
Step 3: Lay flat to dry in a well ventilated space. 

Note: Keep in mind that the bleach will spread out. My splatters of bleach doubled in size as the knit soaked them up.

On the first dress, I flicked bleach evenly over the whole thing. For the second dress I wanted to try a diagonal pattern. Hopefully, when I piece it together I'll have one stripe across the body. I will keep you posted with results!

 Have you experimented with painting, dying, or bleaching fabric?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Betty Page Clothing

I recently heard tale of a boutique offering new production clothing in vintage sizes. It's called Betty Page Clothing and they just opened a shop in downtown Portland. 

My first reaction was fear: that sounds like Nerdy Girl Vintage! But then I realized that while the clothes are new production, the styles are still hard core vintage. Realizing they aren't competition with my "modern inspired vintage" concept (and totally excited at the prospect of new garments fitting me) I decided to go check it out.

I walked into the shop and said plainly, "I pretty much only wear vintage because I'm already shaped like I'm wearing a gurtle. I don't like looking like I'm wearing a costume." 

With that in mind the shop lady pulled a few things for me to try. She was totally friendly and helpful and we had fun selecting stuff. I admit to being skeptical that the XXS would fit both my bust and waist. But some things did! And I am now smitten with this fitted nautical dress: 

Derp! I'm a nerd ;)

Nothing wins me over faster than proper fit. Overall, the idea of this shop is exciting to me and I was pretty pleased. But then I looked at the fiber content and price tags and the two just don't add up in my head. 

$56 for a 100% polyester sweater? I think not. Even though I've been itching for a wool sweater in just this shape (get it? Itching?). This polka dot pencil skirt was also an amazing off-the-rack fit, but the cotton was so light weight and flimsy that I'd never pay for it. I'd rather suffer through muslins and sew it at home in a fabric that will last me years. 

What you're paying for at Betty Page Clothing is the niche style and fit, not the quality. I'm less surprised to see they're sold on ModCloth now that I have felt the fabrics in my hand. The quality is just not up to my fiber standards.

In the end, I would drop $150 on the nautical dress because I can't resist off-the-rack fit. Some things I just don't want to sew. And the stretch of the poly cotton blend is actually really comfortable. But I am hoping to find a way to make the sweaters myself. 

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as vintage knit sewing patterns??

Note: After exploring their website a bit I discovered an outlet section. The prices here are much more reasonable!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2 Year Sewing Anniversary: I Think Knits Time!

It has been 2 years since I started sewing and I realized the other day that I have yet make any knit garments for myself.

About a year ago I was introduced to knits when doing production sewing for a local boutique. Working at Mag-Big acquainted me to the grainline of knits, sewing with serger and coverstitch machines, and cutting fabric with a rotary cutter rather than sheers.

But the fabric they use is mostly thick, vintage polyester. It doesn't have a ton of stretch and it isn't very slippery. I felt confident enough to start a Newcastle Cardigan for my manfriend for Christmas (though I have yet to buy a ballpoint needle to make the button holes). Menswear is boxy and has a pretty loose fit, so that project is has been straight forward. The sweatshirt wool I used was thick and very cooperative to serge together.

However, the kinds of jersey I am drawn to at the fabric store for myself are usually very fine weight and slippery soft.The garments I am interested in sewing are fitted skirts and dresses, which means I have to deal with ease and stretch. Also, there is knowing which seams need reinforcement and a whole different world of hem finishing.

In an effort to create more clothing that I will actually wear, I have decided to bite the bullet and start on some knit projects.

This cream content unknown knit with gold hounds tooth print was in the "New From NYC" pile at Mill End and I couldn't resist it. There is enough for a dress for both my little sister and myself. Woot, sister sets!

I found a simple black t-shirt jersey for the perfect spring/summer Coppelia wrap sweater. As an ex-ballet dancer I was thrilled to get this Papercut pattern for the holidays!

And I know this is probably a stupid thing to do for my first knit venture, but I am going to use these bamboo fabrics for a Chole dress by Victory patterns, V.1. This dress pattern is designed for wovens, so I am going to have to size it down at least two sizes from the smallest size available (I am a 00 right now for some reason). And I think I am going to omit the zipper so it is a pull over. I hope that is ok???

I will definitely be digging up some scrap knit for a muslin. I am going to do a full run through of the dress to make sure I know how I am finishing the neckline and armholes. I have some twill tape for reinforcing the shoulder seams. Is there anything special I need to do for the princess seams?

Do you have any other words of advice on sewing with knits for the first time?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

In The Works: "Nerdy Girl Vintage" Clothing Line

Hello, wonderful friends!

I had the idea of starting a vintage inspired handmade clothing line over a year ago. There are many aspects of this venture that are tedious and daunting, so I have not made much progress. But I am happy to announce that my first pieces are now for sale in a local Portland shop!


Head over to my Nerdy Girl Vintage blog to see the slim 60s style wool neckties I am working on. 

The brand is inspired by my Grandmom, Joyce. I was fortunate enough to inherit her petite hour glass figure, but I quickly learned how difficult it is to properly dress. I taught myself how to sew because I couldn't find proper fit in modern RTW fashion. I enjoyed vintage clothing because it suited my body, but I felt like I was wearing a costume and rarely wore the vintage pieces I purchased in my day to day life.

So, I chose to sew from vintage patterns and alter them to suit a more modern aesthetic. And Nerdy Girl Vintage was born!

Once I sell some of these neckties around town I will have money to play with branding an packaging. Then I can offer them to you all on Etsy! In the mean time, I would like your input on something:

Would you ladies out there enjoy it if I offered hair bows that matched the neckties, so you can match your SO? I am super cheesy and always like that kind of stuff but I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea.